There are so many complaints about the media these days. How they cover only the negative aspect of every issue, how their angles are always sensational. But every once in a while the media covers a story just like it is, and we’re so grateful the LA Times did that with this one.
At the Found Animal Foundation‘s recent “The Impact of Poverty on Pets and Families” forum, I was not only honored to speak about our work, but to have our Shelter Intervention Program brought to many more people’s attention. It was exciting to look out into the room and see how much this topic has risen to the forefront, and to believe in the movement that might grow as a result. At DDR, we know that how much money somebody makes should not determine whether or not they have enough love to give their pets. A depleted bank account does not mean an empty heart. Challenging times does not mean you don’t deserve a dog or cat. It was my pleasure to talk about our real findings through our years of working with underserved communities and the homeless, and to share about how often we see people who are struggling value their pets.
To me it was important to ask attendees for more support, but it was equally as important to call on animal rescuers and activists to have more compassion. It’s easy to make assumptions. It’s easy to pass judgement. It’s easy to make pet adoption an exclusive experience. What is hard is to extend a hand and say, “I see you. What’s going on? How can we help?” I’m proud to be part of a group that does so, and to watch as this issue takes center stage. The more we talk about it, the more awareness we cultivate, the more we let go of the illusion that financial status makes us different. Then the more we can work to keep pets in their first homes forever.
If a pet is happy and taken care of, and if we can support families when they need the help to do so, why shouldn’t that pet stay in his home? I have many more thoughts on this in my book, First Home, Forever Home. It was a great forum. I want to express deepest gratitude to Found Animals, LA Times, and everybody who was there, nodding their heads, listening with an open mind, and fighting to do better for animals.